It is safe to assume that most people all over the world are aware how important it is to eat healthy. Technology sometimes gets a bad rap because we sit around watching television, playing video games, or typing away at a computer; however, technology also has ways of helping us with important food choice data right at our fingertips. The FoodSwitch app developed by the Food Policy Group at The George Institute for Global Health is a great example of how a technology app can help you instantly make better food choices right at your local supermarket or seated at your favourite restaurant.
How Does the FoodSwitch App Work?
The app suggests alternatives based on the nutritional value of more than 40,000 packaged foods, and is continuously growing with crowd sourced information as the user base grows. Users just scan the barcode of packaged foods and get immediate food choice results. It makes it easy to make the right decision and choose healthier food options with easy to understand nutritional advice. When a user scans an item that isn’t healthy or the best choice for them, the app will suggest alternate food choices. This prevents you from getting overwhelmed while shopping and helps decipher food labels which can be confusing or misleading. Another problem is that some foods may seem healthy but are actually filled with sodium, sugar, or saturated fats. With the app, you don’t have to figure out what’s healthy and what isn’t on your own. It quickly and easily tells you what to put in your shopping basket and which items to leave on the shelf. The application also works when dining out at a variety of different restaurants and uses crowd sourced information from other users to apply to a broad range of restaurants and dishes.
Before its official launch, health policy experts from The George Institute for Global Health researched the data for three years. The FoodSwitch application for smartphones uses the research and crowd sourced data to help users find healthy alternatives to foods in real time – while shopping for groceries or dining out. It was originally designed in Australia to help prevent two of the nation’s biggest killers – heart attack and stroke. Now, the FoodSwitch app is available in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and China. A new version is being developed for the United States too. With such a broad base of users, healthy means something different for everyone, so they have developed different options so that you can customise the app accordingly to your dietary needs. The filters include SaltSwitch, FatSwitch, EnergySwitch, SugarSwitch, and GlutenSwitch.
Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute explains how FoodSwitch has made a healthier diet more accessible, “Good eating habits are one of the best ways to prevent disease and as long as food labels remain a mystery to many, FoodSwitch will be here to help Australians do what they can to reduce the risk of dying early from two of the nation’s biggest killers: heart attack and stroke.” It is very interesting to see how The George Institute for Global Health is helping to advance health research, especially through their clinical research organisation, George Clinical. Together, the different branches of the company are making it easier for people to get healthy and stay healthy.